It’s my birthday today – traditionally a day when people of a certain age (my age, that is) wonder what they’re doing with their life. Having a new baby certainly answers that question. After eight months of being too sick to do anything but pass the time, it’s great to be so busy. (And yes, I had a birthday party too – featuring a whole lot of soft cheese and takeaway Indian food.) I still sometimes miss Louisette when she’s in another room. It helps that CJ usually takes her when she’s crying.
Pretty much everything a baby enjoys can become a bad habit. For example, babies naturally fall asleep after a feed (have some warm milk in the evening yourself and you’ll see the effect never really wears off). This is fine until the baby reaches a point where it’s impossible for them to fall asleep any other way. Actually that’s how they’re born – unable to fall asleep any other way. They don’t know how to fall asleep. Which is why most people who advise on this sort of thing say that a baby must have a feed – WAKE – sleep cycle (that lasts about three hours, and repeats over and over). So that’s what we’ve been working on the last few days. It generally goes a bit like this:
Feed: Louisette is woken for her three-hourly meal. After five minutes, she’s too sleepy to feed properly and has to be constantly woken up. (Feeding still hurts, by the way.)
Wake: I take a barely-conscious baby upstairs and sing and talk to her. She slowly wakes up, and for perhaps ten minutes gazes around her with interest. Then she gets sick of the world and cries for up to two hours. Sometimes she’s easy to console or entertain, and sometimes she’s not. I often sleep while CJ tends to her (it’s not particularly easy to sleep under those circumstances, but it’s smarter than not trying).
Sleep: Eventually she falls asleep, and the cycle begins again. She now has the bad habit of only falling asleep when someone is holding her – but at least that means both CJ and I (and babysitters) can put her to sleep. So, progress then.
She’s awake more now that she’s a little older, and having more breast milk than formula (she has about 150 Mls of formula per day, but at present I’m not able to reduce it any more because there clearly still isn’t enough breastmilk). Mercifully, the “wake” part of the routine isn’t necessary at night, so she can and does go straight to sleep after her night feeds. It’s also the time of day when the three-hourly feeds (that’s from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next – so usually there’s only a two-hour gap between feeds at best) stretch increasingly far. She regularly sleeps four hours in a stretch after midnight, and she’s twice slept for five hours all in one go (she’s too young to sleep any longer than that – if she didn’t wake up, I’d wake her anyway). So that’s good.
Today the three of us went and acquired passport photos – no mean feat for a three-week old (who must have her eyes open and mouth closed for the photo, and be looking at the camera! Plus no arms or legs in the photo, and no mum or dad holding her head in place). I managed to time it just right for that ten minutes of adorable alertness just after a feed and before the crying. Babies – especially babies who will be well-travelled before they’re half a year old – need a LOT of forms. Registration of the birth, medicare forms, tax forms, baby bonus form, passport, visa, etc.
Some of you may have heard of “Project 365” which just means “take a photo of yourself every day for one year”. I’m doing that for Louisette, and will be posting my favourites from the first month right here at this time next week (when Louisette will be exactly a month old). Some days are pretty average, and other days are brilliant – but you’ll see all that for yourself next week.